Today, Stratfor reported that secret talks between US officials and the Taliban, which have purportedly been underway for sometime have now reached a critical juncture. According to the story, tentative agreements about the disposition of EPW Taliban at the Guantanamo Bay facility are being ironed out. If this passes muster with the Taliban, the US would release an untold number of known Taliban operatives back to the Afghan government and then, presumably, back to Afghan society. The report also stated the US official would expect some kind of token act from the Taliban in kind; to show "good faith".
There are so many facets of this story that are wrong-headed that it is difficult to know where to begin. First of all, these alleged talks have proceeded for a significant period of time without direct participation by Kabul or Karzai. Apparently, US officials have felt "progress reports" to Kabul would suffice. While I am no fan of Hamid Karzai or his administration, it strikes me as presumptuous that any agreement between US officials and the so-called insurgency, the Taliban would be acceptable on it's face to the "legitimate" government in Kabul. If these talks have any chance of acceptance by the parties who will have to live with them, it is hard to imagine that happening without both parties sitting directly across the table from one another.
Another problematic point is that we have not only participated in talks with a unrepentant belligerent like the Taliban, but have offered to return hardened militants back to them and then, in all likelihood, back to the same battle space where our forces are still operating. This goes far beyond naiveté or even simple incompetence; this is laying the groundwork for future murderous acts which will certainly be perpetrated against our sovereign American forces.
Where do we find people like this? That an American would even consider returning known murderers back to the killing field from whence they were taken and upon which fellow Americans are still operating defies logic, common sense and compassion! It is certainly a criminal act in a parallel universe where they still understand the difference between right and wrong!
It will be interesting to find out what token action the Taliban will present as their sign of good faith. Is there truly anything they could offer to offset such an inexplicably generous offer by the US representative (unnamed)? Can anyone give a reason why the Taliban should take this seriously considering they are looking at the final months of US operations in Afghanistan? One thing that is absolutely certain at this point is there is probably no amount of evil the Taliban can perpetrate from now until 2014 that will cause any kind of shift from this administration's current plan to draw down - and the Taliban know it!
We have unilaterally chosen to not hold them responsible by virtue of our self-administered restraints in the hopes of motivating an unresponsive civilian population to be cooperative, if not proactive in their "liberation" from the blood-lusting Taliban "insurgency". Now we are holding talks with them, in an attempt to cause them to want to normalize relations with a sitting government placed there by us. Let's not forget, we are the ones who forcibly removed them from the seat of governance in Kabul ten years ago - an act of mercy for the average Afghan, if you truly buy into the narrative and an act of retribution for their participation in the planning phases of the attacks on US soil on 9/11. Now, somehow, the enemy that was unseated but not held accountable, that is still actively engaged in combat with us, is supposed to feel motivated to cooperate.
The better plan would have been to consider US interests and US interests alone. If the Taliban truly aided Al Qaeda in the planning, equipping and carrying out of the slaughter perpetrated on 9/11, then destroying them to a man would certainly have been a reasonable response. However, mounting an incursion into sovereign Afghan space to experiment with a historically failed strategy like COIN, the precepts of which define elements on the ground - which do not exist in Afghanistan, not only amounts to sloppy planning and a brutal failure to understand the human terrain, it was also a negligent waste of American lives and treasure.
If anyone still believes that any kind of positive gain can be measured from our ten year venture in this latest nation building fantasy, then stand by because it looks like we are preparing for more exciting adventures in the reshaping of the human psyche in yet other Islamic lands!